Windsor has high number of level rail crossings, few crashes
The horrific collision between an Ottawa transit bus and a VIA train has again highlighted rail safety.
For the last three years, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has put the Quebec-Windsor corridor of passenger rail on its watch list.
The list highlights what the TSB considers the most serious transportation safety risks in Canada.
The Quebec-Windsor corridor is Canada's busiest stretch for passenger rail.
Over the last decade, there have been more than 250 train-vehicle accidents in Canada and nearly a third have happened on that stretch.
Last year, there were two collisions between vehicles and trains Lakeshore, east of Windsor, Ont.
The city of Windsor has one of the highest numbers of level rail crossings in the country. Of 80 crossings in the city, more than 60 are at ground level.
Few have have grade separation because most trains traveling throughout Windsor are moving at slow speeds.
Five years ago, the rail crossing at Grand Marais was a level one.
It got a $50-million underpass to ease traffic jams not because it presented a significant danger.
"Because it's a slow moving train we haven't had fatalities in this community," said Mike Palanacki, the city's director of operations.
Palanacki said two-grade separation projects at rail crossings are only possible with federal funding.
"Grade separation in an urban environment, where you have to retrofit existing roadways or rail lines, are very very expensive," he said.
Because Windsor sees one vehicle-train accident per year, the number doesn't justify the high cost.
"I think they got it pretty safe all the way through the system. I don't think it has to change. [Drivers] just have to be more careful," said Donald McGraw.
"If the level crossing is properly signaled, there shouldn't be any problem. And if it's not signaled, drivers should take care when crossing the level crossings," SanjuSkaraa said.
Retired driving school teacher Jim McArthur said he always looks half a kilometre down the tracks before crossing them.
Most people don't look nearly that far down the road. And things surprise them," he said.